Toyota won its home round of the World Endurance Championship—the 6 Hours of Fuji—a couple of weeks back, leaving Anthony Davidson and Sebastien Buemi with broad grins on their faces. It was a one-two finish for Toyota and Porsche filled the final podium spot with Mark Webber’s crew tasting the champagne.
We’ve had five of eight rounds in the WEC now and Audi still looks the goods for the overall championship. With three races in November we’ll have to be much sharper in getting these updates to you!
Home hat-trick for Toyota Racing at Fuji
12 October 2014
TOYOTA Racing maintained its unbeaten record on home ground with a dominant one-two victory in the Six Hours of Fuji, the fifth round of the FIA World Endurance Championship.
The team scored a third consecutive win in the event thanks to the #8 TS040 HYBRID of Anthony Davidson and Sébastien Buemi, who extend their lead in the drivers’ World Championship.
A perfect day for the team saw the #7, winner in Fuji for the past two seasons, finish close behind in second, with Alex Wurz, Stéphane Sarrazin and Kazuki Nakajima at the wheel.
Both cars finished one lap ahead of the opposition as TOYOTA regained the lead of the manufacturers’ World Championship. Its third win of the season puts the team eight points clear of Audi.
In the drivers’ standings, Anthony and Sébastien lead by 26 points over team-mate Nicolas Lapierre, who missed the Fuji race for personal reasons, with the third-placed crew of Audi #2 now trailing by 29 points.
Unlike last year, when heavy rain ruined the race, today’s event started in dry but cool weather, with air temperature just 14°C. But the action on track soon got hotter.
Starting from pole, Sébastien in the #8 initially slipped to third in the first corners before hitting back and, helped by the 1,000PS four-wheel-drive TOYOTA HYBRID System – Racing, retaking the lead within the opening lap.
Kazuki was also involved in the battle and ultimately gained a position to move into third. Following an early pit stop for Porsche #20, the #7 took second and the two TS040 HYBRIDs ran together at the front, stretching their lead.
At the first pit stops, just before the hour mark, Stéphane took over the #7 while Anthony got in the #8, with both using their new tyres to pull clear of the chasing pack.
After a clean double stint, during which they had to fight through plenty of traffic, the pair was separated by just three seconds and had pulled out a gap of almost a lap on third place.
Sébastien returned to the cockpit of the #8 just before half distance while Alex took the wheel of the #7 to continue the TS040 HYBRID dominance.
With a one-lap advantage, the team and drivers adopted a cautious approach to tyre strategy and traffic with the target of ensuring maximum points from the weekend.
Anthony and Kazuki returned for further stints, with Stéphane taking over the #7 in the last hour as Anthony remained in the cockpit to take the chequered flag and a very popular one-two in front of 51,000 Japanese fans over the weekend.
Racing resumes for WEC next month with a hectic climax to the year, starting on 2 November with the Six Hours of Shanghai prior to the season-closing races in Bahrain and Sao Paulo.
Yoshiaki Kinoshita, Team President: “I am very proud of the team and drivers for this one-two finish in our home race. We have had some great days here at Fuji but this was even better than our previous victories. Many people have asked me if we feel extra pressure this weekend, as Fuji is our home race; actually we only feel extra support. So I would like to say a big thank you to all the fans, Fuji Speedway and our colleagues from TOYOTA who gave us such great encouragement all weekend. Our car was the most competitive this weekend and this is what we are pushing to achieve for the final three races of the season.”
TS040 HYBRID #7 (Alex Wurz, Stéphane Sarrazin, Kazuki Nakajima)
Race: 2nd, 236 laps, 6 pit stops. Fastest lap: 1min 27.887secs
Alex Wurz: “It’s amazing to bring home a one-two in dominant form; we didn’t expect that. The track was very tricky but we did our homework well in terms of tyre choice and set-up. This gave us the chance today to get this result. A one-two like this makes everyone happy; the fans, our colleagues at TOYOTA and especially the team. Now we go to China full of confidence.”
Stéphane Sarrazin: “This is a brilliant result for TOYOTA and the whole team; it’s just amazing. The team did a great job and a one-two is the best possible result. Both cars were pushing each other and it was very close. I am really happy to be back on the podium. Our target coming here to Fuji was to take the lead in the manufacturers’ World Championship and we have achieved that. After frustration in Le Mans and Austin this is a big result for us. Now for the next one.”
Kazuki Nakajima: “Congratulations to the #8 crew. They did a very good job and together we have achieved a great result for the team which is fantastic for the manufacturers’ World Championship. It’s nice to show what we can do in front of our home supporters. My race went well, although it was actually my first race start in WEC and this was quite tricky, especially with the different fuel strategies. I got through the pack and our pace was strong. It’s been a very good day.”
TS040 HYBRID #8 (Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi)
Race: 1st, 236 laps, 6 pit stops. Fastest lap: 1min 27.815secs
Anthony Davidson: “It was an absolutely perfect race and a perfect weekend for everyone at TOYOTA Racing. That was a great job by all the team; we had the strongest car, the right strategy and great pit stops. First and second in our home race; it doesn’t get better than that. For the team to win here three times in a row now is pretty special. It extends our lead in the drivers’ World Championship and regains the lead in the manufacturers’, so you couldn’t ask for any more as a team. So big thanks to all and especially to the guys from TOYOTA Motor Corporation who have given us such great support this week.”
Sébastien Buemi: “To leave Fuji with a one-two and the lead of both World Championships is a very special feeling. At the start it was clearly a bit difficult to warm up the tyres so I was in the middle of a big fight; the first lap was quite crazy. After that we took control. It was a great job from Anthony and the whole team. Honestly, we didn’t expect to be so far ahead but it is the result of a lot of hard work. We’ll enjoy this moment but quickly focus on the remaining races. Today’s result is a good sign for the rest of the season.”
FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), round 5, Fuji (J), LMP1 Race
Podium finish and fourth place for the Porsche 919 Hybrid
Stuttgart. The Porsche Team celebrated its second podium finish of the season for the Porsche 919 Hybrid, while the sister car finished fourth in the six-hour race at Fuji, Japan. The fifth out of eight rounds of the FIA Endurance World Championship was a straightforward and dry race. Drivers Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley and Mark Webber finished third with car number 20. They were followed by their teammates Romain Dumas, Neel Jani and Marc Lieb in car number 14. Furthermore, Mark Webber set the fastest overall race lap on the 4.563 km long Fuji Speedway (1:27.759 minutes on lap 12).
How the race went for car number 14:
After the battles in the opening laps, Marc Lieb settled into fourth and was then lying third when he handed over the car to Neel Jani after 36 laps. Jani changed tyres after 73 laps and handed over the car to Romain Dumas at the end of lap 110. Dumas stopped for tyres and fuel after lap 147. Also, due to other competitors’ pit stops, the car was in third when Marc Lieb jumped in again for the final stint at the end of lap 184. He came in for another splash-and-dash after 220 laps and brought the car home in P4.
How the race went for car number 20:
Mark Webber was fighting for the lead when he had to come in for an early pit stop after ten laps because of a puncture. Afterwards he did a double stint on a single set of tyres before he handed the car over to Timo Bernhard at the end of lap 84. Bernhard did a double stint as well, but he also changed tyres when refuelling after 122 laps. After lap 160 Brendon Hartley took over driving duties. He had his last stop for fuel and tyres at the end of his 197th lap before bringing it home in third.
Wolfgang Hatz, Member of the Board, Research and Development, Porsche AG: “We have reached the target we set ourselves for this race – we have one car on the podium and we finished the race with both cars. In the beginning we were even strong enough to fight for the lead, and in the end we have secured P3 and P4. This was a nice step forward, and we should continue this way.”
Fritz Enzinger, Vice President LMP1: “This result is a great joy for us. Most importantly I am very proud of the progress we made over the course of the weekend. The first free practice on Friday was difficult, but we managed to improve in every session, had a great qualifying and this time we have also turned our performance into a good race result.”
Andreas Seidl, Team Principal: “P3 and P4 are very good results for us and this is down to a great performance from all the drivers and the team – not only from the crew on site but also from the guys back home in Weissach. In our fifth race with the 919 we have, for the first time, been able to get both cars to complete the entire race distance without noteworthy problems. P3 and P4 are down to our own merits. With car number 20 the strategy worked out perfectly. Despite the early stop, the pit stop windows were ideal. This way number 20 was able to finish ahead of number 14 who’s drivers did a great job too. Congratulations to Toyota for a strong one-two finish.”
Drivers Porsche 919 Hybrid number 14
Romain Dumas (36, France): “Finishing in third and fourth is a good and also an important result for the team. But we won’t forget there is still a lot of work ahead of us. By no way have we fully exploited the 919’s potential yet.”
Neel Jani (30, Switzerland): “I did a double stint. It was quite tricky to drive today and it wasn’t possible to do that distance on a single set of tyres. A big problem was the rubber on the track. The tyres pick up the marbles as soon as you leave the racing line to lap other cars, and then you can’t get rid of that sticky stuff. The longer the race lasted, the worse it became.”
Marc Lieb (34, Germany): ”I was the start and the finish driver in our car. The opening lap was pretty tricky with lots of position changes. I managed to stay out of trouble, and later I was also careful when lapping the GT cars. The tyre degradation wasn’t as massive as expected, but still too much to do double stints. However, the Porsche 919 Hybrid has definitely improved.“
Drivers Porsche 919 Hybrid number 20
Timo Bernhard (33, Germany): “I had a trouble free double stint. However, because of our early tyre change, I was out of the normal rhythm and basically racing against the clock instead of having someone in sight to fight. That’s not really easy. The pick up on the tyres was tricky. We have achieved our second podium finish by our own merits – there was nothing more we really could have asked for. I am absolutely happy for our mechanics and engineers.”
Brendon Hartley (24, New Zealand): “I really enjoyed the race. It is a great feeling to step onto the podium as a Porsche works driver for the second time. Despite the puncture shortly after the start, we made the most out of the situation and also tried to do double stints with the tyres. I am really proud to have Mark and Timo as my teammates. All of us – the drivers as well as everybody in the team – have a steep learning curve this season. We have to continue like this, and then we might be able to fight for our first race win soon. The car was really good. Here we made two steps forward.”
Mark Webber (38, Australia): ”I had a good start and was able to put pressure on the Toyota, but then a punctured rear left tyre hurt our race. We then tried to do a double stint with the next set of tyres, but lost some time by doing this. The puncture was cruel, but Timo and Brendon did a great job to get the car back into third.”
Race result 6 hours of Fuji (Japan):
1. Davidson/Buemi (GB/CH), Toyota TS040 Hybrid, 236 Runden
2. Wurz/Sarrazin/Nakajima (A/F/J), Toyota TS040 Hybrid, – 25,627 s
3. Bernhard/Hartley/Webber (D/NZ/AUS), Porsche 919 Hybrid, – 1 Runde
4. Dumas/Jani/Lieb (F/CH/D), Porsche 919 Hybrid, – 2 Runden
5. Di Grassi/Duval/Kristensen (BRA/F/DK), Audi R18 e-tron quattro, – 2 Runden
6. Fässler/Lotterer/Tréluyer (CH/D/F), Audi R18 e-tron quattro, – 3 Runden
FIA World Endurance Champonship (WEC) after 5 of 8 rounds,
1. Davidson/Buemi (GB/CH), Toyota, 122
2. Lapierre (F), Toyota, 96
3. Lotterer/Tréluyer/Fässler (D/F/CH), Audi, 93
4. Di Grassi/Kristensen (BRA/DK), Audi, 82
5. Wurz/Sarrazin (A/F), Toyota, 61
6. Dumas/Jani/Lieb (F/CH/D), Porsche, 57
7. Nakajima (J), Toyota, 53
8. Prost/Heidfeld/Beche (F/D/CH), Rebellion, 48,5
9. Duval (F), Audi, 46
10. Bernhard/Hartley/Webber (D/NZ/AUS), Porsche, 40,5
1. Toyota, 183
2. Audi, 175
3. Porsche, 109
Audi maintains its challenge for WEC title in Japan
- Audi in second place of the standings after five of eight races
- Di Grassi/Duval/Kristensen claim fifth at Fuji
- Fässler/Lotterer/Tréluyer in sixth also score points
Ingolstadt/Fuji, October 12, 2014 – Round five of the FIA World Endurance Championship marked the end of a superb string of results for Audi. Following two consecutive one-two victories and a total of five podium results since May, Audi Sport Team Joest had to settle for positions five and six at Fuji. As a result, the battle for the World Championship is intensifying as the lead of the standings has changed again three races before the end of the season. Audi, as the runner-up in the manufacturers’ classification, now trail Toyota by just 8 points, continues to maintain its challenge.
For the third time in succession, Audi is set on winning the WEC title. In pursuit of this aim, the squad from Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm scored 18 points in Japan in difficult conditions and remains within striking distance of the top. On the 4.563-kilometer circuit south-west of Tokyo that with its combination of a long start-finish straight and a narrow last sector that primarily rewards race cars with extremely powerful hybrid systems, Lucas di Grassi/Loïc Duval/Tom Kristensen (BR/F/DK) managed to improve from grid position six to fifth place. A well-balanced driving performance and a favorably timed third pit stop in a yellow period helped them to do so.
With car number 2 Audi Sport Team Joest had opted for different tactics. Following a brilliant beginning of the race, André Lotterer tried to use his first set of tires a second time beyond the first refueling stop. But the team stopped this attempt early as the lap times did not remain sufficiently consistent. Consequently, the German pitted again after just 17 instead of 35 laps which saved him an additional stop, however. The tires of the hybrid sports car kept picking up rubber from the track on lapping other participants, which caused the lap times to increase.
In spite of this, Audi scored 18 valuable points in the manufacturers’ classification on a track that did not suit the R18 e-tron quattro well. In three weeks from now, on November 2, the sixth race of the season will be on the calendar at Shanghai (China). On its largest single market, Audi achieved its sixth WEC victory of the season last year.
Quotes after the race
Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): “Congratulations to Toyota on victory in their home round. We managed a case of damage limitation in Japan because we continue to be in a promising position in the manufacturers’ world championship. It was foreseeable that we’d be having a difficult time at Fuji. Still, our two driver squads and the whole team were not unsettled by this and scored valuable points for us in Japan.”
Chris Reinke (Head of LMP): “Our squad showed a flawless performance – that applies to the team as well as to our drivers. We used different tactics with both cars in order to maintain our chances. In the end, this earned us 18 points that will still be very important in the battle for the title.”
Ralf Jüttner (Team Director Audi Sport Team Joest): “The positive thing about the race was that we made no mistakes. Strategically, we tried everything and all the pit stops were superb. But, unfortunately, the pit stops were the only aspect in which we were quicker than the competition. We didn’t manage to get the tires to work optimally. In the Championship, we relinquished the lead at this juncture. Now we’re planning to attack in the coming round at Shanghai and to recapture the lead.”
Lucas di Grassi (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #1): “We didn’t achieve what we intended to do, although essentially, we didn’t drive a bad race. We gave everything from the beginning, had a good strategy and good pit stops too. Now we’ve noticed that there are still a few things left to improve. But, it’s a fact that there are some race tracks on which you’re less competitive than on others. We mustn’t be disheartened now but have to be better again in the next race.”
Loïc Duval (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #1): “We tried everything today. Principally, there’s nothing we can fault ourselves for because we made no mistakes and had no technical issues whatsoever. We simply weren’t fast enough. But that’s how racing is at times. We’ve got to analyze this and improve before the next race.”
Tom Kristensen (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #1): “Congratulations to Toyota on their deserved victory. We traveled to Japan with great expectations. We were aiming to reward our numerous fans here with a nice result. But our love for Japan is equaled by the challenge for us to prevail at Fuji International Circuit.”
Marcel Fässler (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #2): “It was a difficult race for us because we weren’t able to keep the pace. On my first stint, it was very difficult to get into a reasonable rhythm. Somehow I didn’t find the balance. Fortunately, the car clearly felt better later in the race. But on the whole I’m not satisfied. We need to analyze the entire weekend, look ahead and strike back at Shanghai.”
André Lotterer (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #2): “It’s not a great result. Positions five and six are very unusual for us. We’ve got to face the fact that we didn’t have the potential this weekend. We did everything correctly in the race in every respect. We’re going to learn our lessons from this and try and improve. The Championship remains open.”
Benoît Tréluyer (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #2): “It was a difficult race. Today, we weren’t fast enough for a place on the podium. We simply lost too much time to the competition in several places. But that’s racing. We’ve got to improve in order to be in contention at the front on a track configuration like this one as well. Now the preparation for the next race begins.”
1 Buemi/Davidson (Toyota), 236 laps in 6h 00m 39.367s
2 Nakajima/Sarrazin/Wurz (Toyota) + 25.627s
3 Bernhard/Hartley/Webber (Porsche) – 1 lap
4 Dumas/Jani/Lieb (Porsche) – 2 laps
5 Di Grassi/Duval/Kristensen (Audi R18 e-tron quattro) – 2 laps
6 Fässler/Lotterer/Tréluyer (Audi R18 e-tron quattro) – 3 laps
7 Canal/Pla/Rusinov (Ligier-Nissan) – 17 laps
8 Bradley/Howson/Imperatori (Oreca-Nissan) – 17 laps
9 Brundle/Ihara/Yacaman (Morgan-Judd) – 20 laps
10 Mediani/Minassian/Zlobin (Oreca-Nissan) – 21 laps